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Separation and divorce

What’s true & what’s false about child support

Some myths about child support are widespread.
Do you know what’s true and what’s false?

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Only married parents can ask for child support.

FALSE. Whether married or unmarried, all separated parents must contribute financially to their children’s needs and therefore may be required to pay child support.

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My ex and I can decide that there will be no child support.

FALSE. Child support is a right that belongs to the child, not the parents. Parents therefore can’t decide to waive the right to child support. For instance, if one parent agrees during negotiations that he or she will never claim child support, the court will consider that agreement invalid.

When it comes to child support, a judge must review any agreement the parents present to ensure that it complies with the law. If the judge considers that the support they agreed on isn’t enough to meet the child’s needs, the court can refuse to approve it.

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Parents can apply for support for their adult child (18 years and over).

TRUE. The right to child support doesn’t end automatically when the child reaches the age of majority. With some exceptions, if an adult child is not yet financially independent, parents must pay support to contribute to the child’s needs.

However, the court can determine a support amount different from what the law expressly provides. If the adult child works part-time or has scholarships, for example, a judge can take that information into account.

En apprendre plus

Support Payments for an Adult Child (Éducaloi)

En apprendre plus

Child Support for an Adult Child Still in School (Éducaloi)

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In the case of shared custody, neither parent is required to pay support.

FALSE. Shared custody doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay child support. However, the amount of time the child spends with each parent has an impact on the support amount.

When parents share custody, the parent earning the higher income usually has to pay support to the other parent to make up for the difference in their respective incomes. This makes it possible for both parents to provide for their child's needs in proportion to their financial means.

DID YOU KNOW?

Since March 2021, the Divorce Act has used the term “parenting time” instead of “custody” and “access” to refer to the time the child spends with each parent. Therefore, you may find this expression in your legal proceedings or in judgments rendered by the courts.
The terms “custody” and “access” remain in effect for de facto spouses, however.

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A parent can stop paying child support if the other parent fails to respect their agreements.

FALSE. A parent can’t decide to stop paying child support because he or she considers, for example, that the other parent owes him or her money or isn’t following the parenting schedule. The right to support belongs to the child, even though the support is actually received by one of the parents on the child’s behalf.

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Child support isn’t tax deductible.

TRUE. The parent paying child support can’t deduct it from his or her taxes. On the other hand, the parent receiving support doesn’t have to add it to his or her income.

En apprendre plus

Tax Treatment of Support Payments (Revenu Québec)

En apprendre plus

Are the support payments paid or received deductible by the payer and taxable to the recipient? (Government of Canada)

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A parent can always choose to pay support directly to the child.

FALSE. Child support is usually paid to one of the parents because, in principle, that parent is meeting the child's basic needs on a daily basis (e.g., housing, heating, groceries, etc.).

However, the court may decide otherwise if warranted by the circumstances, for example, if:

  • the parent receiving support fails to adequately meet the child’s needs.
  • the child is an adult and has asked to receive the child support directly.
  • the child no longer lives with his or her parents but is not yet financially independent.

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I can ask my ex to send me his or her tax returns every year.

TRUE. Parents must keep each other informed of the state of their incomes so that they can each confirm that the amount of support payable to their child is up to date.

In practice, the information is usually exchanged once a year. The documents they share include federal and provincial tax income tax returns and notices of assessment, pay slips, company financial statements, statements of income and expenses for immovable property, etc.

If one of the parents’ financial situation has changed, a request can be made to have the support amount modified accordingly.

En apprendre plus

Changing Child Support Payments (Éducaloi)

En apprendre plus

Using the SARPA Administrative Service to Change Child Support (Éducaloi)

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The parent receiving child support must prove to the other parent that the money was used to pay for the child’s expenses.

FALSE. The parent receiving support doesn’t have to report on expenses incurred or provide a specific budget for the expenses covered by the support. The amount of support calculated under the law is presumed to meet the child’s basic needs. Accordingly, no proof is required from the parent receiving support.

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A parent can apply for child support even if the other parent lives abroad.

TRUE. As long as one of the parents lives in Quebec, a Quebec court can order a parent to pay child support.

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Warning

The information presented on this page is not a legal opinion or legal advice. This page explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. To obtain a legal opinion or legal advice on your personal situation, consult a legal professional.